Critical Hits: 5 Years and Counting

This has been our biggest year yet: not just in post count, traffic, or any number of other metrics. It’s been the year with the biggest changes and the most happening here on Critical Hits, and I couldn’t be prouder of where we are today.

In May, I was interviewed by Wizards of the Coast for a feature on Critical Hits. In the course of answering the questions, I delved into the origins of the site:

It was kind of a weird time when we started Critical Hits. Many of us were graduating college, starting to move on to real jobs, get married, and so on. Our gaming group was pretty split up at the time, and so we’d have long conversations about “nerd stuff” through email and IMs… everything from comics, to movies, to (of course) D&D. I wanted a way to bring more people into the conversation. Meanwhile, one of those friends (who posts as TheMainEvent on our site) started his own WordPress blog based on a similar idea, focusing on humor and politics. I combined those concepts and started Critical Hits.

It’s been five years since those events lead me to start Critical Hits with Vince and Bartoneus, and brought other friends on board to help write. In year 1, we were just getting off the ground and learning about the whole blogging biz. Year 2 saw some of our first regular features, including the Inquisition of the Week and YouTube Tuesday, our first brush with fame covering a Fallout 3 press event, and one of the top referrers to our site was someone called “The Chatty DM.” I said in year 3 that we really started to “make it” with our DDXP coverage of the first big 4e announcements. Year 4 saw our first Ennie nomination (our second came this year, for which we are still very grateful) and continued growth.

However, it also saw Bartoneus and I stretch ourselves a bit thin. Between everything else, it became more and more difficult to keep updating on the schedule we wanted to. Thus, it became clear that we needed some more help.

It had been my dream for a long time to have a number of authors writing for the site. With that in mind, we put out the call for writers. The Chatty DM was the first who proposed a merge with us. In his own words:

I joined/merged with CH for many reasons, partly because I didn’t want to handle backend issues but a lot because I wanted to work closer with the team of this website with whom I shared a lot of values in regards to integrity, quality and passion toward our own branch of geekism.

I wanted post-merge CH to become a hub of like-minded passionate word-freaks whose voices shone in the community as authoritative and engaging.

The gamble we took paid in spades as we’ve since brought in so many new voices: both established or promising talent. CH no longer is a website about a handful of clever buddies writing cool geeky stuff, but rather an active community team made up of top-notch like-minded, friendly geeks sharing what they love so much about their hobbies and the lives they shaped around them.

I’m honored to be part of that team now.

We would go on to set Vanir up with our first regular column, bringing his sense of humor to the web. Great writers like Mike Shea (looking for a home for articles that didn’t fit on Sly Flourish), the prolific Matt James, Scott Wallace‘s brief run of fluff-filled articles, and total newcomer Dixon Trimline, who says this:

In January 2010, I was reading blogs, listening to podcasts, studying rules books, but I wasn’t really playing, and I certainly wasn’t connecting with the community at large. That was when Dave the Game posted an invitation on Critical-Hits.com along the lines of, “Do you have a blog? Do you like to write? Would you like to contribute to Critical Hits?” My answers were, in order, No, Yes, and Yes.

I had no business applying, as I didn’t have any kind of presence on the web, and I flustered over the decision for quite a while before sending in this e-mail: “If you have room for a total unknown, I have a few ideas for 4E articles. This really is the game system I’ve been seeking my whole gaming life, and man-oh-boy would I like an opportunity to share and interact with an equally enthusiastic community.”

Dave was absurdly gracious, welcoming me to submit an idea, then an article, and then additional articles, and readers actually started responding to what I was writing, and I was stupified with joy. This was exactly what I wanted when I first send that e-mail but not at all what I expected. Critical Hits has afforded me an opportunity I never thought I’d get, and every day I feel delighted, blessed, and monumentally unworthy of it. This is a good blog, and these are good people.

If that wasn’t enough, we would go on to take on former WotC employees and freelancers, the very folks who helped shape the game we had written so much about and played all the time. First Chris Sims joined us with his regular column, then Logan Bonner came aboard (after I met him at Pax East), and Shawn Merwin, all of whom bring a deep insights into the game, and even if I weren’t running the site, I’d learn a lot from them all.

So, as I’ve run on too long already, I’ll sum up: THANK YOU ALL. Whether you’re a friend who I convinced to blog 5 years ago, a more recent columnist, a one time guest, a regular commenter, a lurker who has never done anything but read: I thank you all.

What’s next for us? I’ve moved more to the editor role than that of a regular writer, and I’m hoping to keep going what we’re doing here. On top of that, we’re very close to launching a new feature that will get even more content out there for your reading enjoyment. And possibly, from there, onto the publishing world. I’ve tried some tentative steps into that world before that, honestly, I’ve dropped the ball on. However, I think this will be the year we started putting together some actual books.

As always, let us know if there’s something you’d like to see.

Enough from me. Onto our annual stat round-up!

Basic Stats

  • Highest number of RSS feed subscribers: 2,529
  • Total Pageviews in the past year: 956,007
  • Unique Visitors in the past year:291,243
  • Total number of posts: 2,487 (including all Musings of the Chatty DM posts)
  • Total number of comments: 25,188
  • Total number of different comment names: 2,620
  • Total spam blocked: 110,106

Top Posts

Top Pages

Other Favorite Posts of the Year as Chosen by Us

Most Commented

Most Popular Posts in Each Column

Top 4 Human Authors and 1 Robot Author by Post Count

Top 5 Commenters

  • Chatty DM (by far)
  • Dave: The Game
  • Bartoneus
  • Graham
  • Reverend Mike

Top 5 Countries

  • United States
  • Canada
  • United Kingdom
  • Australia
  • Germany

Top 5 US States

  • California
  • Texas
  • New York
  • Washington
  • Illinois

Worst State

  • Wyoming

Top 5 Referrers

Top Blog Referrers

Top Search Keywords out of 67,307

  • Critical Hits
  • d&d essentials / dungeons and dragons essentials
  • chatty dm
  • watch firefly
  • critical hit podcast
  • critical hits blog

Bottom 6 Search Keywords

  • “bullets at the poker table” is it a bet
  • “chase after juggernaut’s sloppy seconds.”
  • “chaos phage” info  (as if someone has it, and needs help, made me laugh at least)
  • “chris sims” “welcome to dark sun, b!#@&s!”  (very specific search…)
  • “coure of mischief and strife” teleport speed
  • “time traveller destroys past. heroes stop him; things are worse.”

Funniest Search Keywords

  • “press button receive bacon” and “push button receive bacon” – this one comes up all the time
  • “sex with mind flayers”
  • chris perkins has a sexy sexy voice
  • contortionist d&d
  • orc anime sex
  • wotc movie porn
  • I’ve had it with these motherf-ing dragons in this motherf-ing dungeon
  • horny tiefling

Thanks again to They’re Using Tools for the awesome birthday graphic!

About Dave

Dave "The Game" Chalker is the Editor-in-Chief and Co-Founder of Critical Hits. Since 2005, he has been bringing readers game news and advice, as well as editing nearly everything published here. He is the designer of the Origins Award-winning Get Bit!, a freelance designer and developer, son of a science fiction author, and a Master of Arts. He lives in MD with e, their three dogs, and two cats.

Comments

  1. I know it’s too early to pop the champagne bottle but to hell with it. 5 years is an eternity in geek project years and having been a reader, commenter, guest poster and now fully fledged member I hope to see the site flourish even more.

    Great work everyone.

  2. Wow, this is awesome. I just learned of this site and all the D&D bloggers and twitter accounts recenty, and wow am I impressed.

    Even if I can’t talk with most of the bloggers here directly, I do enjoy reading the posts. It is nice to have this resource for a geek outlet between D&D and other D20 game sessions.

    How can I, as a newbie, contribute to this site?

  3. @Chris: The “new feature” Dave alludes to will cover that. In the meantime, you are heartily invited to join the community be commenting on the pieces you find of interest and strike discussions in them. We’re also all found on Twitter… check our staff page.

    Thanks for joining us.

  4. I joined Critical-Hits for much the same reason as Chatty. That is, I wanted to unify with an existing blog. I also wanted to learn from my new surroundings, and I sure have. I already knew Phil, so Critical-Hits felt like a comfortable fit. I’m glad I joined in.

    It has garnered me, I feel, a whole slew of new friends. That’s more valuable than anything else.

    Thanks for letting me play here. And thanks to everyone for bothering to read what I have to say.

    Here’s to many more birthdays.

    _ C _

  5. Shawn Merwin says:

    Congratulations to Critical Hits on the 5-year milestone. It is a pleasure and an honor to have the chance to share my thoughts with all the fine people involved, from the contributors to the readers. I am lucky to be in such good company.

  6. Happy Blogiversary!!

  7. I couldn’t be happier with how things have changed and grown around here in the last year, and I sincerely hope that I can say the same for many more years to come. Thanks to everyone who has joined us here and especially to our readers, all of you guys are totally awesome!

  8. Congratulations on the 5 year milestone, you guys are a pillar for the online D&D community. Here’s to the next 5 years and all that it brings.

  9. Nice to see you’ve done do well for so long. You guys have great stuff on you site. Cheers!

  10. maddogtime says:

    Felicitations!

    As a 4E forum lurker I was instantly drawn ti this site and Chatty’s before he merged with the hivemind.

    “One of Us, One of Us”..

    This is achieving cult status. Who can tell what’s next, mass weddings, mind control, faked math personality tests and our leaders jumping up and down in expensive talkshow sofa’s shouting about their super-girl friends? > the latter part would primarily be you, Mr Chalker…

    Enough ranting. Keep dishing out the delicious articles and here’s to another 5 years!

  11. maddogtime says:

    Pardon the bad grammar. At work. Hopped up on black coffee and brown sugar. Don’t ask. Oh and I missed the edit function.

  12. Congradulations guys! I would occasionally check up on you, until ChattyDM merged with y’all. After that happened I became a regular reader, and now I wonder what took me so long. I may not play 4e, but I always am able to find some piece of advice, or something that I can convert. I am especially enjoying the Architect DM series. So, here’s to another 5 years! Keep up the good work!

  13. Thanks all!

  14. Nerd that is procrastinating says:

    congrats 🙂

  15. Congrats to your first five years, and hope you guys continue for many more to come!